A brief account of a life in the woods
By Allan G. Blue
One time when I was about 14, my mother, dad and I were driving through the New Hampton area. We had just visited Douglas at West Point and were on our way to visit Malcolm at Cornell. We passed this huge complex of buildings. and father casually remarked that he had helped start that whole thing.
He also said, as I recall, that there was a plaque somewhere inside the main building with his name on it. Mother and I begged him to stop, but he didn't seem interested in doing so, so we didn't.
Ernest immediately returned to the tree planting business, taking on a job with the State at Lake Pond Camp near Paul Smiths, NY where he supervised the planting of one million trees on State land, with the job to be done by June first.
The job was successfully completed by the deadline of June 1, and on that date EWB was given a temporary appointment as NY State Conservation Department Forester at a salary of $1200/year. Just one month later, on July 1, 1915, he was again promoted, and on this occasion he wrote this short note to his bride-to-be:
This position paid $1400 per year.
One of those many dreams may have been the possibility of marriage, for on the morning of April 15, 1916, EWB married Lulu B. Davis in Herkimer NY. They were married before noon because Ernest had to be at work the next morning at Lake Clear.
"Blue-boy" and "Lou-girl" (their names for each other at this point) boarded the 12:15 PM train for Saranac Lake. They had to ride in the baggage car until they reached Poland, but after that they had the front chairs in the Pullman "NADINE".
The next day she bought her wardrobe for the times to come. It included a pair of hob-nailed boots.
Their "honeymoon cottage" was a tent in the woods by a stream near Mt. Pond, as EWB continued to supervise tree planting around the area. Together they made a little dam on the stream. Ernest built a water wheel, which powered a discarded telephone hand crank mechanism to provide a single six-volt electric light. (All the comforts of home!)
They did not break this camp until October 12th, when tree planting ended for the winter. It had become awfully cold by that time.
They moved to Old Forge on September 29, 1917 and to Poland on August 2, 1926. At Poland, they lived in the Sanders House until August 1, 1927, when they moved to a house near the center of town that was built by Chauncey Eddy in 1841. This is the house in which I was born.
Ernest retired on October 1, 1951. There was quite a problem with the computation of his New York State retirement, inasmuch as, initially, no records could be located for some of those very early years. Bob Rosenbluth was instrumental in seeing that Ernest got credit for all of his employment. Eventually, the missing records were uncovered. The correspondence regarding the retirement matter was the source of much of the employment information given above.
My father also was responsible for the introduction of the Indian Pump into Conservation Department usage for fighting forest fires.
This pump, carried on one's back, was made by the D.B. Smith Company of Utica, originally for agricultural purposes.
Ernest recognized its fire fighting possibilities, and convinced both the Company and the State of this potential.
It soon became the standard weapon for use in the woods, and the State as well as private entities eventually placed thousands in service.
Lou died on September 14, 1963 after a series of strokes. In 1964 Ernest married Lou's niece, Mildred P. Harter. His proposal to her was described as follows in a letter he wrote to Douglas and Allan on May 25, 1964:
"Yesterday...we visited Bernice and Chester Wells at Peter's Point and, returning via the beautiful woods road between Thayer's Corners and Woodins Corners, stopped for a serious talk in the course of which the lady said "yes". As we were about to leave I noticed we were parked close to a thrifty Beech tree and, on a sudden impulse, I got out my faithful axe and marked it with the long blaze and three hack marks used by the old Colonial surveyors to witness the corners of important land subdivisions."
His last trip into the woods he loved so well was on a crisp, sunny day in December of 1973 to cut a Christmas tree.
Postscript: Bob Rosenbluth had two sons, one crippled by polio as a youth.
The other son, Marshall Rosenbluth, became a noted theoretical mathematician in the US nuclear weapons program.
In the late 1950s, as an Atomic Energy Commission employee, I attended a meeting at Los Alamos where Dr. Rosenbluth was present. I had no idea at the time that we had other interests in common.